Disney XD, the kid-focused cable channel owned by Disney, partnered up with gaming news website IGN to broadcast the E3 Electronic Gaming Expo this year, but the broadcast ran into some issues. Viewers noticed that the stream occasionally tuned out or blurred scenes at odd times, at one point even omitting part of one of the most-talked about moments at the show — an intimate moment between two women in the new trailer for The Last of Us Part II.
Controversy broke out on social media after a clip by Richard Crosby was uploaded to YouTube titled “Disney XD E3 Censorship.” The footage shows the beginning of the Last of Us II presentation by Uncharted developer Naughty Dog. Ellie, the protagonist, is at a dance with a lover. While talking, the two share a kiss that went viral, thanks to its impressive animation.
In the Disney broadcast, the kiss cuts out a couple of seconds in. In the full version of the demo, the two kiss initially for around 10 seconds. At the time, for anyone watching, it appeared as if Disney had decided to censor a gay kiss at E3. But according to a Disney XD spokesperson, that’s not exactly what happened.
“The Disney XD policy does not allow for gratuitous violence in programming that children may be viewing,” the spokesperson said. “During the channel’s General Audience, DX|P-branded programming from the E3 gaming conference yesterday, telecast editors omitted content that did not meet our policy standards, including several seconds of an animated video game scene that began with a kiss, but ended with a knife attack in which a character’s throat was slashed. Only the latter, violent portion of the scene was not televised from the event.”
This lines up with what happens after the kiss: the scene transitions into Ellie brutally cutting a man’s throat. The first Last of Us game was lauded for smartly using violence to flesh out its characters and world. According to Naughty Dog, the follow-up will continue in this vein by exploring the concept of hate.
Given how much triple-A games tend to focus on murder, it’s a little baffling that Disney decided to broadcast E3 in the first place. Anyone could have guessed that many of the games being presented wouldn’t line up with the company’s image. Still, Disney tried its best to take out parts of E3 demos that went too far by temporarily blurring the on-screen action.
“Disney XD is censoring the violence in this game by applying a Gaussian Blur over the screen like every 5 seconds,” one viewer wrote on Twitter. “This coverage is awful.” Other viewers noted that the broadcast didn’t always catch violence as it happened, leading to an awkward, hard-to-parse stream.